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Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

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out, as it were, again, and put before the two parties as an attempt to bring
hostilities to an end ... It is fair to say that it was from the outset only
intended to show the minimum amount of territory which should be assigned
to Poland in the east. It is also true to say that the British delegation at
the Peace Conference consistently maintained that any further eastward
extension of Polish territory beyond the Curzon Line would be highly
dangerous to Poland, and before the Treaty of Riga was signed in 1921, we
several times warned the Polish Government against such extensions.
Mr. Ivor Thomas : " Is the Secretary of State able to confirm that the
Soviet Foreign Minister, Chicherin, replied to Lord Curzon that the
Curzon Line was unacceptable because it was too unfavourable to the Poles ?
Mr. Eden s " I am familiar with that one. It is absolutely correct, and
the reason for that was that in the belief of the Soviet Government at that
time a district which I think is called Chelm was thought by the Soviet
Government to be on the Russian side of the Curzon Line,* and they said,
and rightly said, that that was Polish territory, and they did not agree with
the Curzon Line in regard to that particular area.
" I go to the next stage which is significant—August, 1920. At that time,
the opposite happened to what had happened before. While at the earlier
date the Curzon Line was proposed to the Soviet Government by us with
the approval of the Polish Government, at the later stage to which I am
referring the Soviet Government, in their turn, approached the Polish
Government with a proposal—which was approximately in fact the Curzon
Line—and the Polish Government asked our opinion. We then told the
Polish Government in 1920—the Soviet Government having communicated
to us the text of the terms—that we considered such terms would leave
ethnological frontier unimpaired, and we urged them, the Polish Govern-
ment, not to refuse these terms.f
" I would like to refer to another matter which I think we must try and
* It could not have been the Chelm district, since Chelm Jies to the west of the
river Bug in central Poland.
f On July 17th3 1920, Chicherin sent a telegraphic reply to Lord Curzon* s pro-
posals. The Soviet Government rejected these proposals on the grounds that they
considered It superfluous that the governments grouped in the League of Nations
should interfere in the matter of the peace between Russia and Poland. On the
contrary, the Soviet Government desired to negotiate with Poland direct and was
prepared in that event to grant her a more advantageous line than that proposed
by Lord Curzon. That paragraph in Chicherin's reply ran as follows :—
<c Direct negotiations with Poland are in full harmony with the wishes of the
Soviet Government and it declares, therefore, that if the Polish Government
addressed to Russia the proposal of entering into peace negotiations, the Soviet
Government will not reject its proposal and will also consider in the most friendly
spirit any subsidiary proposal as to an armistice or some other means meant to
facilitate peace negotiations. The Soviet Government expresses also its willing
ness to agree to a territorial frontier more favourable to the Polish people than
frontiers indicated by the Supreme Council in December last and again proposed
by the British Government in its ultimatum of July 12th. The Soviet Govern-
ment cannot leave without notice the fact that this frontier was elaborated by the
Supreme Council in some parts under the pressure of counter-revolutionary
Russian elements, adherents of Russian capitalist and landed class."
This attitude on the part of the Soviet Government was repeated in Kamieniev's
letter to Lloyd George on August 5th, 1920, in which he also stressed that the
Soviet Government " abide most firmly by their recognition of the freedom and
independence of Poland and also by their readiness to give the Polish state wider
frontiers than those suggested by the Supreme Council and communicated in the
British Note of July 10th."
(See Vol. I, p. 95).